How To Decorate a Small Living Room

When it’s time to give your smallish living room a makeover, you don’t want it looking cluttered, closed-in or lacking in character. Thankfully, you can find lots of clever design strategies to keep the space functional and airy without curbing your creativity and style.

Check out these seven expert-approved tips to spruce up or refresh your small living room.

Use Neutral Colors

Start with a classic design trick: Light shades create the illusion of airy space. Interior designer Natanya-Joy Gidoomal suggests going with with whites, light woods and natural fabrics. “They all trick the eye into thinking of nature and outside,” she says.

But that doesn’t mean the space has to be bland, according to interior designer Ariana Lovato. “Keep the majority of the space neutral and then add pops of color with upholstery or an accent wall,” she says.

Go Bold and Cozy With Dark Shades

Dark color walls in living room

Homeowners often shy away from dark colors, thinking it will make a bijou living room feel too closed-in. However, Gidoomal says embracing bold shades can create a welcoming, intimate vibe.

Adding layers of soft textiles, like throws and cushions, makes the space seem even more cozy and inviting. Plus, using statement-making dark shades throughout the living room can sometimes give it a more extensive feel.

“By distracting the eye from the proportions of the room — like where walls end or ceilings start — it can make it feel larger, much more fun and full of character,” Gidoomal says. Do this by painting your trim the same dark wall shade to blur the room edges and prevent the eye from being drawn downward.

Lovato suggests painting the ceiling darker than the walls. “It can be a fun way to add drama,” she says. This pop of color lifts the eyes up, creating the illusion of greater height, and the bold statement shifts your focus from the size of the space.

Pick Slimline, Multi-Functional Furniture

When square footage is finite, don’t choose a chunky sectional sofa or an oversized centerpiece coffee table. Gidoomal recommends slimline pieces that aren’t too imposing.

“Rather than opting for a sofa with wide arms, go for skinny or low arms or even something without arms,” she says. Selecting a sofa on thin, raised legs rather than one touching the ground also creates a feeling of space and airiness.

Lovato recommends space-saving and multi-functional pieces, like an ottoman with a tray that can double as a coffee table. “A round coffee table is also a great idea because it allows for easy flow and access around a room,” she says.

Double-duty furnishings like seating with storage, fold-out wall-mounted desks, bookshelves with a flat-screen TV mount and stools as side tables all work well.

And don’t shove all your furniture up against the walls to make your floor seem more roomy. Floating the pieces away from walls creates a more cohesive illusion of space.

Make Your Windows Look Bigger

“Maximize the size of the windows, even if it’s by trickery, and the room will always feel bigger,” Gidoomal says.

Things like extending curtain rods beyond the width of the window frame, adding window shades just below the rods or even hanging the rods higher all create the illusion of larger windows. And hanging sheer curtains lets in more natural light, always good in a small living room.

This is another instance when dark colors can work to your advantage in a small space. Painting the walls surrounding your window a dramatic shade makes a bright window pop.

Mirrors Create the Illusion of Space

Mirrors aren’t just beneficial in bathrooms or bedrooms. Gidoomal says bouncing light around with this decorative focal point makes a small living room seem brighter and more expansive, particularly if it’s a full-length mirror resting on the floor.

Positioning a mirror to reflect an open, green garden creates an illusion of the outside coming in, making the room feel even larger.

Layer Your Lighting

“A mixture of lighting is best in smaller spaces so the eye is drawn to different places,” Gidoomal says.

Lovato suggests a mixture of floor lamps, ambient table lamps and recessed accent lights for a visually and functionally balanced space. “We like to keep all of these on dimmers so you can set the ambience,” she says.

Tall floor lamps draw the eye upward, as do statement pendant light fixtures on the ceiling. Rather than going for a large, elaborate floor lamp shade, opt for an exposed bulb or a small, simple shade for that slimline, space-saving effect.

“Up lighters are always good for creating height with light, while table lamps are great for making a more intimate space that feels cozier,” Gidoomal says.

Don’t Forget the Flooring

Area rugs are a practical and stylish addition in any home, and a large one in a small living room opens up the space. Too small, and it can seem like the space stops at the rug border. To maximize this illusion, ensure all four legs of the major pieces of furniture stay within the rug borders.

Gidoomal says even the grain of wooden floors can make a room appear longer or wider, particularly herringbone patterns. That’s because their diagonal lines draw the eyes outward. Install the pattern running perpendicular to the longest wall for maximum impact.

Gidoomal also recommends light-colored tiles or carpets, which lift the space and heighten the illusion of size.

Did you miss our previous article...